Welcome Home!
Ed's News and Views About Ed Youngblood Ed's Consulting Services Ed's Bibliography Contact Ed Ed's Links

Archived News: 


Ed Youngblood's News and Views
August 2010 News

Motohistory Quiz #82:

We have a winner!

(8/31/2010)

 

Woe unto all other Motohistorians when Somer Hooker is at his screen when a Motohistory Update comes out.  In a matter of seconds, Hooker shot back the correct answer, identifying the picture in our quiz as the engine for the Vincent Amanda, which can be credited as the world's first personal watercraft.  Hooker has won several times, and being the Southern gentleman he is (from Brentwood, Tennessee), he promptly disqualified himself from the competition.  Hot on the heels of Hooker was Mats Munklinde of Hjamarp, Sweden, who has been declared winner.

 

The Amanda was built by Vincent in 1957 and 1958, and named after the daughter of a businessman named Werner who brought the concept to Philip Vincent.  The engine pictured here, designated the T10, was a 100cc two-stroke single that was adaptable also to go-karts, lawn mowers, and farm implements.  Vincent offered a T20 200cc twin as well. 

Unfortunately, Amanda did not enjoy a happy life.  Initial tests and early sales were good, but the resin used in the hull soon decomposed, and the boats sank.  Sadly, one of Vincent's employees died while testing the Amanda at sea.  Due to the faulty composition of the hull, very few Amandas remain today.  To read more about the Amanda, go to Motohistory News & Views

3/31/2009.

 

Congratulations, Mats, your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.

Photos of the Amanda engine in our quiz were provided by Brian Slark of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

 

Motohistory Quiz #82

(8/31/2010)


Hey, Motohistorians, it’s time for another Motohistory Quiz.  What do we have here?  Leaf blower engine?  Weed whacker?  Boat motor?  Oh, wait, stuff on this web site is supposed to be about motorcycles, at least remotely.

 

So be the first to tell us what this is and what it has to do with motorcycle history, and you’ll be declared our newest Motohistory Know-It-All, complete with your own personalized diploma.

 

I’ve already given you a hint, so send your answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.

 

Shameless commercial pitch

(but for a worthy cause)

(8/31/2020)

 

Last month, we reported the publication of “Two-Wheeled Treasures,” produced by Motohistory for the Antique Motorcycle Foundation (see Motohistory News & Views 7/20/2010).  The book has now arrived and is available exclusively through the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  It features more than 150 images by photographer Paul Buckley of three dozen historic motorcycles selected from the collections of members of the AMCA.  Motorcycles range from a replica of the 1884 Copeland steam motorcycle to a 1973 Kawasaki Z1.  In between are Indians, Harleys, a Crocker, Excelsiors, and many more classic brands from the U.S., Great Britain, Europe, and Japan.  Printed in only 1,000 copies, this will be the ideal Christmas gift for anyone who owns, rides, collects, restores, or just appreciates motorcycles.  It was produced by Motohistory as a charitable contribution to the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.  No compensation was received for publishing services, and no royalties for sale of books will be paid to Motohistory. All profits from sale of this book will go to the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, a non-profit, educational organization.  The price is $19.95, plus shipping and handling.  An extra fee is charged for sales outside the United States.  To learn more about the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, click here.  To see images of the motorcycles featured in the book, click here.  To access a printable order form for “Two-Wheeled Treasures,” click here.

 

Commentary:

“Murdercycles” are

back in the headlines

By Ed Youngblood

(8/31/2010)

 

During the first decade of the 20th century, motorcycles were held in high esteem.  They were an exciting new device for an exciting new age, saving labor, providing speed and convenience, and giving joy to anyone who could afford one.  For those who might not yet have gathered the scratch to buy one--or who hadn't yet mustered the courage--there was racing.  Motordromes and board tracks were one of the big capital investments of the era, providing the infrastructure for what had become known as “the 20th Century Sport.”  Motordrome racing was not only thrilling and popular, it was also dangerous.  Deadly accidents in 1912 involving Jake DeRosier (Jake did not die then, but never returned to health) in Los Angeles, and Eddie Hasha and Johnny Albright in Newark, New Jersey brought an unwelcome notoriety to the sport.  What's worse, the Hasha accident killed four young spectators and injured several more.  To read Daniel Statnekov's account of these events, click here.  

 

The Newark tragedy made the front pages.  Publisher William Randolph Hearst, the father of yellow journalism, knew a circulation-builder when he saw one, and his reporters fanned the flames of outrage.  The motordromes became Murderdromes, motorcycles became Murdercycles, and the sport was compared to the barbarism of the Roman Coliseum.  Within two years, the upward motorcycle sales trend turned downward, and marginal manufacturers went bankrupt.  You can't blame it all on the journalism of the day, because there were other economic and cultural factors (thanks, Henry Ford), but by the mid-teens motorcycling had begun to lose its luster, and nothing comparable to its 1910s popularity would be seen for another 50 years.  And to be fair, while some industry leaders--namely Arthur Davidson--decried the public relations pitfalls inherent in racing, promoters exploited the idea of its dangerous dance with death, as witnessed by the photo above of the Detroit Motordrome, circa 1912.

 

Last weekend, 13-year-old Peter Lenz was killed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Red Bull US Grand Prix weekend.  To read the Superbikeplanet breaking news account, click here.  Of course, Lenz was not a competitor in the Grand Prix.  He was competing in a support race, but his death still took place at an international venue and in the contest of international competition at its highest level.  This, plus his age, brought “front page” attention to the sad mishap, putting the term “murdercycles” back into the headlines.  To see one example, by David Whitley, award-winning columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, click   

here.

 

I am not going to get into the whole issue about parental responsibility and how young is too young to race.  Plenty of others have already, and will continue to talk about this.  But I can't help but note the historical similarity to events of almost exactly a century ago.  We have seen motorcycles rise to their highest-ever level of popularity in the United States in recent years.  This trend has ended and sales are heading downward, thanks to a flagging economy and demographic factors.  And now this: “Murdercycles” are back in the headlines.  This isn’t good, because the last thing the motorcycle industry needs at this moment is to become the focal point of a scandal-mad media.  And on that topic, I can see another worrisome basis for comparison.  Today's anything-for-ratings policies of cable outlets like Fox/CNN/MSNBC et al can make the circulation-hungry William Randolph Hearst look like an amateur. 

 

Lead photo: From Stephen Wright's “American Racer 1900-1940.”   

 

John Parham update

(8/31/2010)

 

National Motorcycle Museum President John Parham's lung transplant and recuperation have gone well.  He will be released from the Cleveland Clinic to travel home to Iowa on September 1, just in time for the big Davenport AMCA National Meet.  John hopes to attend, though only briefly.  Because he is still at a very critical point in his recovery and must avoid any chance of infection, Jill requests, “Please keep your hugs and handshakes to yourself.”  So just smile and give John a little fist bump.  This will probably be permissible.  To read our original story, go to Motohistory News & Views 8/8/2010.  To read more in John's own words, click here.  

 

 

Frank Westfall and the crown jewels

of antique motorcycles

(8/30/2010)

 

Frank Westfall, astride his 1971 Shovelhead, is riding through the streets of downtown Syracuse.  With no turn signals, he is signaling his every move with his left hand, indicating that he's turning right, turning left, slowing down.  He is switching lanes, avoiding the pot holes, swaying this way and that like a snowboarder over moguls.  About the only time he takes his hand out of the air is to bang a gear with his left-hand tank shifter.  Clearly, Westfall (pictured here) has ridden these streets so long, he probably has given the potholes names.  Me, I'm close behind on my BMW, trying my best to follow his line, but clumsily hitting at least half the potholes in a cruel suspension torture test.

 

Westfall, a second-generation tailor by trade, and a motorcycle collector by passion, was born in Syracuse in 1952.  His mother owned a dress shop, and Frank learned to measure, cut, and sew at an early age.  He was introduced to motorcycling with a minibike and a paper route.   Frank wanted to become an architect, but he had a high school sweetheart whom he had made pregnant so he accepted Plan B, which was to attend a local community college to become a tool and die maker.  It wasn't easy.  He recalls, “I was married at 17 and had a son.  I was working full-time flipping burgers, and taking 17 credit hours.  I was sleeping through most of my classes, but I still came out with close to a 4-point grade average.”  Frank was good with machinery, and after graduation landed a machinist position at a steel mill.  He says, “I was in trouble from the first day because of the pace of my work.  The union guys got on my case, telling me to slow down and quit showboating.”  Although Westfall is still a good mechanic and machinist, today he sometimes hands off a restoration job to someone who is even better.

 

This evening, we are riding out to visit Pat Murphy (pictured below with Westfall), an engineer who is also a brilliant fabricator, and to look at the crown jewel of Westfall's motorcycle collection.  Finally breaking free from the congestion and rough streets of the inner city, we ramp up onto I-690 west.  On our left is the famous Syracuse Mile, that huge, tacky track that has produced motorcycle speed records for the better part of a century.  On our right we pass Onondaga Lake and head on toward Skaneateles Lake, which sits at the highest altitude of the Finger Lakes Region. Murphy recently completed restoration of a streamlined, one-off, Henderson-powered motorcycle built by Ray Courtney in 1936 (pictured below).  The job was finished just in time to debut at the Rhinebeck Super Meet in June.  Appearance of the Henderson caused a sensation.  Photos and chatter went global through the internet.  Tonight we are going out to see it and get some photos.  Westfall owns the bike, in addition to another Courtney creation called the Enterprise, built in 1950.  Murphy rebuilt the Henderson from the ground up.  Westfall made its seat, an imposing leather sculpture that contributes as much as any single feature to the bike's spaceship appearance.

 

Westfall has a custom leather business called Middle Earth Leather Works in downtown Syracuse.  He does repairs and basic tailoring, but his real interest is in original designs, including bags, briefcases, and leather art.  Middle Earth looks like an old-world tailor shop right out of the mind of Charles Dickens.  There are bolts and bolts of rolled leather, stacked here and there like cord wood.  There are sheep skins, scraps, unfinished jobs in piles, the contents and order of which only Frank can fathom.  From the walls hang coats, purses, brief cases, and other fine leather objects.  Frank's happy cinnamon-colored hound Hendee (pictured below with Westfall) blends right in with the ambiance and color palate of the shop. 

 

While earning a living at the steel mill, Westfall returned to school, taking classes in fashion design, art, and business at Syracuse University.  He explains, “Pay at the mill was good, but it was not a life I wanted.  I saw these old guys who had spent their lives there.  They had no joy in their work, and lived to retire.  They spent their days breathing bad air and handling solvents, and most of the time within a year after they retired, you got an invitation to their wake.”  Frank gave up the good pay to apprentice in a leather shop while he continued to take classes, and in 1975 he opened his own business.  It was on the Syracuse campus until 1993, then he moved downtown to his current location.  It's a comfortable place where no one hassles him when he parks his Shovelhead right in the doorway.  Frank's shop is no Park Avenue showplace, but he uses it more for production than sales.  His method of selling is to hit the road to art and craft fairs, traveling as many as 30 weekends a year.  His work is well-known and respected, and he has been invited to some of the trendiest juried shows in the eastern United States.

 

But Middle Earth is a shop with a difference, which is rare motorcycles and memorabilia.  Those piles of leather cuttings are just as apt to be draped across the seat of a Henderson as on a shelf or table.  Display cases that were left by the previous tenant--a shoe store--are filled with pins, patches, banners, posters, photos, and other ancient motorcycle memorabilia.  Parked in the shop are a 1907 Curtiss, a 1912 Henderson, a Neracar, '36 and '37 Indian Fours, a 1909 Reliance, 1910 and 1912 Grayhounds, and a 1920 Evans, plus sundry engines, frames, and sheet metal parts.  The shop is actually listed in the Syracuse Yellow Pages as the Syracuse Neracar Museum.  Most of Westfall's bikes are not restored.  He loves the rare and unusual machines, preferably in original paint.  A wheel-up restoration like the Courtney Henderson is done only when there is no other choice.  On Friday the 13th, of July 2001, he bought it in boxes, along with its stablemate, the Enterprise.  The Enterprise is completely original, and Westfall intends for it to stay that way.

 

Westfall favors pre-war, New York-manufactured brands, or Fours, with a special passion for Hendersons.  One of the more interesting chapters in his life involves marathon riding aboard Hendersons.  In the 1996 Great Race, he rode a 1928 stock Henderson from Tacoma to Toronto in 14 days.  In 1998, he entered a 1928 Henderson Deluxe (pictured below) in the Great Race, traveling two-up with Peg Barber from Seattle to Boston.  Machines in The Great Race must be at least 45 years old, but most are automobiles, which offer teams of competitors much greater protection from bad weather, and are easier because the driver does not have to do his own timing and navigation.  Westfall and his passenger remained competitive with the automobiles despite slogging through deep snow in Colorado, having to perform an overnight engine overhaul in a motel room, and using the race’s only day off to replace the valves and valve springs.  After all this, on the final day torrential rain worked its way through a crack in the magneto, stranding the bike and riders only 50 miles from the finish.  It was a heart-breaker, but Westfall is more interested in the journey than the results.

 

It's similar with his collecting: he is far more interested in charm and rarity than in monetary value.  If fact, Westfall has never sold a motorcycle just for the money.  His sales and trades are always aimed at getting something more rare and interesting.  The cash, he says, has no value beyond its means to another motorcycle.  And, he explains, it is an agonizing process to sell motorcycles to buy another.  He says, “I actually grieve when I sell a bike.  I get very depressed, even when I know I have made a good transaction.”  In fact, Frank refuses to think of his bikes in any kind of quantitative terms.  Ask him how many are in his collection, and you will get an honest answer, but not the answer you were looking for.  He will   reply, “Not enough,” and no matter how many times you ask, he will not give you a number.  Whatever it is, for Frank it is not enough. 

 

The Courtney Henderson going viral on the internet has caused a certain amount of stress for Westfall.  He says, “I have been hounded by people wanting to know where it is, what it's worth, and whether I want to sell it.  Some New York City art dealer has come at me with the attitude that somewhere out there is a number I can't refuse.”  He continues, “I told him, 'Get away from me.  You're the Devil.'  That kind of took him aback and he wanted to know why I had said that about him.  I said, 'You're the Devil because you want me to exchange a thing of beauty for money.  Money is just money, but there is just one of these.  I could never replace it.  It is beyond monetary value.” 

 

Conceivably, there could come a day when Westfall's Ray Courtney motorcycles--the Henderson and the Enterprise (pictured above)--will become a means to something even more rare and unusual, but right now it doesn't seem likely.  For a collector like Frank, they are the crown jewels on antique American motorcycles.  There are only one of each, there will never be others, and there is nothing else out there quite like them.  

 

Ray Courtney:

Michelangelo of metal

A future Motohistory update will include a feature on Ray Courtney and his unusual creations, one of which is pictured here on the cover of Cycle in September 1952.  Courtney was an automobile designer and experimental metal worker who served in the styling departments at both Kaiser and General Motors. While a great deal about Courtney remains a mystery, we'll tell you to the best extent we can about his vision and his motivation, and the 50-year chain of custody that brought the KJ Henderson and the Indian-powered Enterprise to Frank Westfall's front door at Middle Earth Leather Works on a Friday the 13th in 2001.  Clearly, Courtney was a visionary who was not even slightly influenced by the contemporary motorcycle industry.  His creations have been dubbed "futuristic," and understandably so, but Courtney saw no reason why they could not exist in the mainstream of his own time

 

 

The Wulf: 1975 – 1980

By Mick Duckworth

(8/28/2010)

Editor' note: Our Motohsitory Quiz #80 (6/30/2010) featured the Norton Wulf, an effort by Norton-Villiers-Triumph to compete with the Japanese two-strokes.  We told you little about the machine at that time, but promised more in a future update, by Mick Duckworth.  Here it is.

 

However chaotic the British motorcycle industry became in the Seventies, it never lacked creative engineering talent.  Two of its best brains were Bernard Hooper and John Favill, whose SPX stepped-piston two-stroke engine (pictured below) was one of several projects nurtured by Norton Villiers Triumph in its quest for motorcycle sales.  Both had worked for the Villiers engine company in Wolverhampton.  Frustrated by a lack of dynamism, they left and together formed a consultancy to work on engine ideas with a view to obtaining patent rights.  When entrepreneur Dennis Poore bought Villiers in 1965, he invited them back to undertake advanced development, focusing on their stepped piston concept.

 

When Poore acquired the bankrupt AMC group in 1966 to form Norton-Villiers, Hooper and Favill were asked to put their research on hold and give the Norton Commando priority.  Both men made key contributions to the 750cc twin before returning to stepped-piston engine projects.  These projects were the single-cylinder SPR, that had already shown potential, and a multi-cylinder SPX.  Armed with patents, Hooper and Favill struck a royalty licensing deal with Norton-Villiers.  The 150cc SPR was intended for industrial use, while Poore envisaged the SPX twin as Britain’s reply to Japan’s latest hot two-strokes.

 

The SPs differed from most two-cycle engines (including the stepped-piston 500cc Dunelt single of 1920) in not passing intake mixture through the crankcase.  Instead, it was drawn into an annular cavity created as the larger, lower portion of the double-diameter piston moved downward in its bore.  As the piston rose, mixture was forced through a transfer passage into the combustion chamber above the smaller-diameter upper portion of the piston. In the twin, the transfers crossed over, so that each pumping chamber fed the other cylinder’s combustion chamber.  This cross-charging system put the X in the engine code (see diagram above).  As bottom-end oiling followed conventional four-stroke practice, lubrication and fuel systems were entirely separate, admirably reducing dirty emissions.  Also, SPs consumed less fuel than a typical two-stroke of the time.  Pictured here is the left side of Wulf I is with side panel removed, showing frame construction. To tune the left cylinder, adjust right-side carb!

 

The National Research Development Corporation funded NV to develop 350cc, 500cc, and 750cc SPX motorcycles.  Reed valves on the intakes aided progress but there were stumbling blocks, including Poore’s bizarre insistence on a vertically-split crankcase and separate gearbox.  A year after NV’s 1973 acquisition of BSA’s fallen empire to form NVT, the NRDC withdrew support.  It thought NVT, also planning four-strokes with Cosworth and BRM, as well as continuing BSA’s Wankel project, lacked focus.

 

Hooper and Favill departed before a cash crisis closed the Wolverhampton plant and its Commando assembly line in mid-1975.  They supported an angry workers’ action committee by publicly revealing a prototype 500cc SPX motorcycle with a sheet steel central frame section.  Called the Wulf (a Wulfrunian was an inhabitant of Wolverhampton), the machine had a claimed 42bhp at 6,500rpm, with 100mph-plus capability. 

 

With help from the NRDC, Hooper developed a water-cooled Wulf II (pictured left) and unveiled it in 1980.  Favill went to a mower company using the Vertex engine, made by NVT under Hooper-Favill patents.  The world never got SPX motorcycles (yet), but Bernard Hooper Engineering persevered with units from 150cc singles to one-liter V4s, mainly for aviation or defense applications.  After Hooper’s death in 1997, his son Peter took over the reins (type ‘Bernard Hooper Engineering’ into your search engine).  Favill moved to Harley-Davidson in 1979 and still lives in the US.  Both the air-cooled and water-cooled Wulf prototypes are on permanent loan from Peter Hooper to the Birmingham National Motorcycle Museum.

To read more about John Favill, click here.  For more about Bernard Hooper, click here.  To access the web site of the National Motorcycle Museum UK, click here.

Images provided by the National Motorcycle Museum UK.

 

The Maicos at Herrenberg

By Ralf Kruger

(8/25/2010)

 

If the name Maico is mentioned in a group of passionate motorcyclists, most will intuitively connect that brand with the highly sophisticated off-road models of the 1950s, '60s and, '70s.  And it is true; the name Maico became equated with capable, high quality motocross and enduro motorcycles, and synonym for a whole market segment in Germany. Surprising for many, I think, this specialization was not planned by Maico from the outset, but was evolved into over a period of time. There is an early analogy with a main rival from Sweden, Husqvarna, whose then new Silverpilen road-model was transformed into a series of excellent off-road machines.

 

So, what were the roots of these famous German dirt bikes?  To get some inspiring new impressions on that Maico theme, and to enjoy a small display of Maico motorcycles, I visited on July 25 the Third Annual Maico Meeting in Herrenberg.  But why Herrenberg?  How was this place significant in Maico history, since Maicos came from Pfäffingen?

 

Maico was founded by Ulrich Maisch in 1926 as a bicycle factory, which also produced a lot of different devices like sewing machines.  When the factory in Poltringen was assigned to his two sons, Wilhelm and Otto Maisch, in 1931, they began to expand into the motorcycle market in 1933.  It was a difficult time in Germany, right in the middle of the Great Depression.  However, Hitler's new legislation provided for motorcycles up to 200cc to be tax-free, and there was not even a driving license requirement. No wonder a new market for small motorcycles boomed, and with DKW well established as the leader in market share, there was plenty of room for small newcomers such as Maico.  Using 118cc Ilo and 98cc Sachs engines, Maico did well enough to afford to build a new factory in 1939 in Pfäffingen.

 

After the Second World War, until 1948, no motorcycle were produced by Maico.  Germany was occupied by four allied nations, each of which had its own rules and regulations.  In addition, materials were in short supply and limited for essential products.  Because the town of Pfäffingen lay in the French zone, Maico was cut off from its former suppliers. For this reason, Maico erected a new engine plant in nearby Herrenberg, which lay in the American zone. But there were still big problems.  Barely anyone could buy anything, because the value of the Reichsmark was so low.  So, for some time Maico survived by repairing old machinery, on wheels or otherwise. 

 

But things abruptly turned for the better when the new Deutsche Mark was introduced on June, 20. 1948.  Suddenly, the market for small motorcycles virtually exploded, and Maico set out to improve its reputation as a motorcycle manufacturer by building its own engines.  Designed by Willy Tezlaff, the new Maico 125cc two-stroke single featured modern Schnürle "reverse scavenging," produced 5.5 hp, and in the Model M125 (pictured above and below), was capable of 40mph sustained cruising.  Stephan Christoph, who owns a 1949 M125, described it as a pleasure to ride.  This model, one of the first assembled by Maico, still carried the pre-war “Tiger” fork.  This was improved in 1950 with a more modern tele fork.  Both the '49 and '50 models still had a rigid frame, but late in the year it was announced that a new plunger frame and new 150cc engine would soon be introduced.

 

Power was not the top priority of the customer of the day.  Rather, reliability and durability were of greater importance, and Maico offered these to its customers, proven and promoted by participation in “reliability runs,” which were the precursors of todays enduros.   Maico actively campaigned these events to test and develop its products, and as early as 1950 had three works rider on it's pay-roll, including Ulrich Pohl.  He had been one of the most successful off-road riders, and was captain of the German ISDT team prior to the war.  He joined the Maico factory as an engineer and rose to the position of Chief Engineer.

 

In 1952, the M175 was introduced (pictured above and below), and depicted at the Herrenberg meeting with an example owned by Fritz Breitmaier.  It was a completely new design that captured six gold medals at the 1952 ISDT.  This was also the year that the European Motocross Championship was created by the FIM, and both Maico and Zundapp made their mark.  Maico earned such international recognition that the company sold as many M175s as it could produce. 

 

Since 1951, Maico had moved into another area of two-wheeled mobility with its Maicomobil, which was intended to appeal to customers who had not been able to save enough money to buy a car.  Generally considered a scooter, the Maicomobil was a unique design more akin to a closed motorcycle.  Under its bodywork was a tubular chassis with full-size motorcycle wheels, a complete spare of which was mounted in the rear of the machine.  A second series arrived in 1954 with a larger 200cc engine, based on the M175 motor.  It was praised for its greater roominess, larger trunk, and more stout coachwork.  But weight was up to 148kp (329lbs).  Unfortunately, there was no example of this wonderful large scooter at the Herrenberg meeting.

 

There were at the meeting two examples of the 1955 Maicoletta (pictured here).  This was Maico's answer to the chic scooters of Vespa and Lambretta that had come out of Italy.  Introduced to the public late in 1954, the Maicoletta clearly established the company's ability for advanced styling and design.  Maico made some big changes from its Italian rivals.  The chassis was not self-supporting, but had a much more robust tubular frame. A greater wheel diameter of 14 inches offered improved handling and stability, and the very cleverly designed fork with its forged, craning slider tubes delivered more travel.  Called the “bazooka fork,” it was good enough to be later implemented on Maico enduro and motocross machines.  Many different companies later copied this  layout.  With its 14hp, 250cc engine, Friedrich Georg Betzlbacher's ("Fritz" was 1957 European 250 Motocross Champion on Maico) blue Maicoletta represent the larger version.  There was also a 10hp 175cc at the meeting.  The 250cc Maicolette was the strongest scooter available from any German manufacturer, and was popular enough to remain in the product line until 1968.  As pictured here, its entire rear bodywork could be removed by turning a single screw.

 

How much the German motorcycles of the 1950s actively competed with cars can be seen in the 1953 Maico Taifun (pictured below), presented at IFMA in the fall of that year.  In development since 1951, this motorcycle was intended to offer the positive features of cars.  It offered more comfort through a smoother twin-cylinder engine, a quieter and more reliable final drive achieved with a completely enclosed chain, and reasonable power from 350cc and 400cc engines.  It offered stunning styling, not only in its bodywork, but with all of its mechanical parts, including its engine and suspension.  To be taken seriously as an alternative to the small cars of the day, the Taifun had to be capable of carrying a sidecar.  For this purpose, an Earls-type swing arm was used, and widely flared fenders provided protection from water and road grime. 

 

When the 22.5hp 400cc Maico Taifun offered in 1954 had a lot more power than a 350cc Triumph Boss (16hp) or the popular DKW RT350 Twin (18hp), but problems emerged under sidecar use, including overheating ignition coils and breaking spokes in the rear wheel.  Although it was sold until 1958, the breakthrough of a new touring concept that Maico had hoped for with the Taifun was never achieved.  But to be fair, no motorcycle in the latter half of the 1950s sold well in Germany.  Automobiles were on everybody's mind now, and many Germans were saving their money for a car.   

 

A completely new generation of Maico road-going prototypes were presented in 1964 at IFMA.  These were the 50cc and 125cc MD series.  "M" stood for Maico and "D" for Drehschieber (rotary valve).  The 125cc version was also shown at an American show in 1965.  However, there were still many problems to overcome with these new disc-valve, two-stroke engines.  These were solved by new Development Engineer Günther Schier, who came from Rotax, in Austria,  in 1966.  Production took off in 1967 with the MD125 11hp,  with yearly updates to follow until 1975.  These 125cc MD Maicos were very fast from the beginning. While the 1968 MD125SS road-going model had a class leading 14.5 hp (upped to 16hp in 1971) and an exclusive six-speed gearbox, this output was still far from what the design would eventually achieve.  For example, the Maico RS production racer, based heavily on the road bike, achieved 24 to 26hp and created some serious stir among the prevailing Yamaha TA racers on the track.

 

Still more impressive for young German customers was the 50cc MD Maico (pictured above).  Because this small motorcycle could be legally ridden at age 16, it was on every youngster's mind as a serious contender in a comprehensive fleet of German brands providing similar products.  The advertisement spoke of 6.3hp in 1971, which was a pinch more than even Kreidler's 50cc Florett could offer at 6.25hp.  What seems to be an academic difference today could be THE deciding factor for young purchasers at that time, not to mention the technical appeal of a six-speed gearbox and rotary disc valve!  Regrettably, with all that "bred of the racetrack" feeling, there was also a reputation of “for experts only.”  Occasionally seizing pistons, even if not totally unknown by riders of Hercules, Zündapp or Kreidler 50cc motorcycles, were said to be caused by "overtuning" the engine. So market share remained low despite the bike's outstanding performance, demonstrated by Maico riders who painstakingly did their jetting homework and kept the carburetor's rubber seal tight.

 

An outstandingly well restored example of a 1975 Maico MD250 owned by Hans Hinn was on display in Herrenberg.  Hinn, a former shop floor chief with the Maico factory, had been the man who championed the MD250 on the agenda of Maico production.  As early as 1971, motivated by the success of the 125cc RS, the first over-bored 220cc Maico made its way to first tests.  Provided with a more robust crank and a bore of 76mm and stroke of 54mm (same as the 125cc), the displacement grew to 245cc, and power increased to 32hp.  When the first Maico MD250 (pictured above and below) was introduced at IFMA 1972, power had fallen to an official 28hp, but this was still absolutely competitive, particularly if you consider the low weight of 126kp (277lbs)!  Modern attributes included a pointless ignition by Kröber, and a Ceriani fork, and Girling shocks.  This professional stuff was completed with a 180mm Grimeca drum brake for the front wheel, which was actuated by forged Tomaselli levers.

 

So things were not looking too bad for the 1973 season. The debut of the only assumed German competitor in its class--the Hercules Wankel--was delayed until 1975, so the exotic Italian Moto Morini 350 four-stroke V-twin, and all the Japanese bikes, like the Yamaha RD 250, were the main competitors in a booming market.  Sadly, something went wrong for Maico.  While Yamaha alone sold about 4,000 RDs in 1973, Maico failed to sell 100 units.  The main reason for this disappointment was not a lack of speed or inferior handling, but missing refinement.  There was no "autolube," no easily read tach and speedo, no disc brake in front, and was a single.  The young customers at that time raved about the cultivated AND fast Japanese two-stroke twins.  And for a select minority of customers, there was even the Kawasaki triple.  Maico had no chance against this kind of sophistication.  Today, things look not that different at first glance.  The facts did not change.  But if you balance comfort versus agility into the equation these bikes were originally made for (yes, Hockenheim at under 1.30 for the old short circuit); if you are willing to trade  comfort for superior handling, yes, then you will change your mind.

 

Although the first air-cooled version of the MD250 was no sales success, Maico did not surrender.  In 1978, the second version with a water-cooled engine was presented to the public, the MD250WK (pictured above and below).  Mechanical noise, caused by whipping cylinder fins. was largely  eliminated.  Thermal safety improved, and the cylinder liner liner was coated with NiKaSil.  Brembo disc brakes and cast aluminum rims completed the new package, but little changed.  The sales rate went to nil.

 

To produce some publicity and increase interest with the customer, Maico decided in 1981 to install a Maico racing cup for young riders.  Fifty units were produced, providing 37hp@8600rpm.  Changes on the engine included a heightened exhaust port and an improved expansion chamber.  The motorcycle got a sleek tank/seat combination and rear-set pegs.

 

In 1982, Maico gave up.  While Yamaha had landed an instant sales-hit in 1980 with the RD250LC, which continued with its RD350YPVS into 1986, Maico had sold less than 300 motorcycles in four years.  Nevertheless, it must be said that the small Maico company was one of only a few German firms that tried to compete in a market crowded by excellent Japanese middle-class motorcycles.  And there are those who still appreciate this effort, as witnessed by the group of enthusiasts who held their third annual meeting at Herrenberg to celebrate the Maico brand.  I can understand their continuing reverence.

 

To access VintageMaicos.com, click here.  For more about Maico on Wikipedia, click here.  To reach the Maico Owners Club, click here.  To access the Maicoletta page, click here.  For images of the Maicomobil, click here.

Photos by Ralf Kruger.

 

(8/23/2010)

 

The Official Review of the 2010 Isle of Man TT is now available in high-definition video from Motorsports Films, capturing the week's activities in more than four hours of action footage.  Ultra slow-motion sequences reveal the extreme stresses the riders and machines are subjected to as they negotiate the legendary Mountain course, reaching speeds close to 200 mph a mere inches from buildings, walls, and hedges.  There are spectacular new camera angles and more on-bike footage than ever before.  2010 IOM coverage, plus bonus features, is available for $29.99, and on Blu-Ray for $37.50.  For more information, or to order your copy of “The 2010 Isle of Man TT, click here.

 

 

(10/21/2010)

 

The Antique Motorcycle Foundation, an organization created to educate the public about the history of motorcycling, has unveiled its new website.  The non-profit, tax-exempt educational foundation was formed in 2007 through a restructuring of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, the nation’s largest organization of antique-bike enthusiasts.  Originally known as the AMCA Foundation, the organization took on the Antique Motorcycle Foundation name earlier this year to help focus attention on its mission to tell the public at large about the important role the motorcycle has played in the evolution of technology and culture in the industrialized world.  The Foundation’s efforts to fulfill that mission have included the development of two exhibits of Antique motorcycles at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The Foundation is currently working on an exhibit of historic racing motorcycles, called “Fast from the Past,” that is expected to open early next year in the new Motocyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York. The Foundation has also published a book, “Two-Wheeled Treasures,” featuring the classic motorcycles owned by AMCA members that were part of its first museum exhibit. And it has helped provide funding for outreach projects, including an essay contest by the AMCA’s Youth Program that gave one young person the chance to build an antique motorcycle from the ground up, under the supervision of experts in the field.  Visitors to the Foundation’s new website can find out more about all of these projects, get the latest AMF news, order a copy of “Two-Wheeled Treasures,” or make a donation to help advance the Foundation’s work by clicking here.  

 

Motorcycles from the Wheels Through Time Museum earned top honors at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.  Click here.

There's lots of good vintage racing stories from Down Under on Dennis Quinlan's Velobanjoagent blog.  Click here.   

 

There has been a wealth of material recently on the Cyril Huze Blog that might appeal to the Motohistorian.   There's a report about the 2010 Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  For the story and photos, click here.  Fans of old BMWs and Zundapps will love the 2010 World Champion of Metric Custom Bike Building, a side-valve boxer four (using R71 and K750 parts) with shaft drive and pre-war star-type frame and center-hub steering, built by Yuri Shif of Belarus.  Gorgeous and gargantuan.  For more information and photos, click here.  Excuse me for not getting excited about this one, but if you want to make your knucklehead look like a pimp wagon, click here.  Huze reports on the big hit Burt Munro's streamliner made at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.  For the story and photos, click here.  For video of a running, all-original 1913 Harley-Davidson, click here.  And finally, the bare-bones and brutish style that has gotten raves recently with the Falcon Kerstel (see Motohistory News & Views 5/12/2010) is beautifully executed by Dave Cook around a 1975 Norton Commando 850cc engine.  To see it, click here.

Sturgis Hall of Fame photo from Cyril Huze Blog.

Watch Steve McQueen ride a Honda Elsinore in the desert.  Click here

 

On the 19th of this month, John Penton celebrated his 85th birthday.  The photo here of John with his namesake motorcycle was taken at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at its new exhibit opening ceremony on July 8, 2010.  To see a three-part John Penton “Changing the Game” interview on YouTube, click here.

 

Last month, we reported on getting a look at Honda's first works motocross bike, the 1972 Honda RC125M, recently acquired by the Terry Good Collection (see Motohistory News & Views 7/31/2020).  Good reports that restoration--which consisted largely of dis-assembly, careful cleaning, and reassembly--is complete, and that he will soon post on his MX Works Bike web site the story about this amazing, 138-pound machine.  To access the site, click here.

 

Now we can all have a Captain America bike.  Click here

 

The Falcon Kerstel has been getting a ton of publicity lately.  Here's more, on YouTube.  Click here.   

 

Paul D'Orleans--the Vintagent--brings us extensive coverage from the 2010 Quail Gathering.  Click here.  

 

To see video from the 2009 Davenport vintage dirt track races, including helmet cam footage, click here.  For the Wauseon 2008 races, click here.  For the Wauseon 2009 races, click here.

 

The Sixth Annual Barber Vintage Festival is just around the corner.  For the information necessary to make your plans, click

hereTo consign bikes to the Bator International auction at the Barber Festival, click here

 

For beautiful black and white photography of motorcycles, click here.

 

Wild Mustangs by Uhl

(8/20/2010)

 

Fine artist David U continues his series of lovely ladies with lovely motorcycles, only this time he has include a lovely airplane, the P51 Mustang, one of history's most romantic war birds and one of today's most desirable collectible vintage aircraft.  Uhl's work, which focuses on Americana and romantic images from the past, has earned him a reputation as the Norman Rockwell of motorcyclist artists.  Signed and numbered canvas prints of “Wild Mustangs” are available in 26”x34.5” for $1,895 or in 31.5”x42” for $3,500.  To learn more about David Uhl's art, click here.

 

Paul Brodie's “1919” vintage racer

(8/17/2010)

 

What do you do when you are building a functioning replica of a 1919 Excelsior overhead-cam engine--a historic engine not known to exist anywhere in the world--and you need a test mule.  Cobble up an authentic Excelsior board track frame, or start from scratch?  And if you're going to start from scratch, why not just make a vintage road racer, since paved circuits are readily available and provide good, clean testing conditions.  This is what Paul Brodie did, starting a two-year project in 2007 that would be eligible for the Formula 750 class in local vintage competition.  Under these rules a pre-1967 machine of 1,000cc capacity can run with the 750s.  It would make an interesting discussion as to whether Brodie's latter-day replica is pre-1967, but what the heck!  If you a promoting the local races, wouldn't you be a bit liberal with the rules to have a “1919” motorcycle as gorgeous as this show up at your track?  To read more about Brodie's work, click here.   

    

 

It's time to fire the Cannonball

(8/15/2010)

 

Prior to 1916, relatively few had crossed America aboard a motorcycle.  Today, with good highways, safe places to stay, and instant communication, probably even fewer have completed the task aboard a pre-1916 motorcycle.  On Septebmer 10, more than 50 stalwarts will give it a go, traveling from the beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to the beach at Santa Monica, California in 16 days.  At this writing, brand representation includes 26 Harley-Davidsons, ten Indians, five Excelsiors, three Hendersons, two each for Pope and Sears, and one each for Premier, JAP, BSA, Thor, and Militaire.  One of the most curious machines in history, the Militaire is surely the most unusual in the contest.  If rider Jim Dennie completes the transcontinental ride, he will probably compile more miles on his bike than all of the other Militaires in history, combined.  The organizers of the Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run have created an excellent web site with tons of information about the event, its history, the route, the riders, and their machines.  To check it out, click here.  For a video of Chris Sommers Simmons, the only woman riding the Cannonball, click here.    

 

Image from Cannonball web site. 

 

Junk to beauty

by sculptor James Corbett

(8/14/2010)

 

This isn't the kind of kitsch you see for sale at the truck stop, made of clear-coated ball bearings, valve springs, and welding rod.  While he starts with junk and old car parts, sculptor James Corbett ends with things of beauty that are sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, and often breathtaking.  Motorcycles are only one of Corbett's subjects.  He does cars, animals, and abstracts.  From Ningi, Queensland, Australia, Corbett been sculpting only a little longer than ten years, but has earned a worldwide clientele with his unique creations.  To see more of his art, click here

 

Image from James Coburn web site. 

 

The Bob Logue

Motorsports Honda Museum

(8/13/2010)

 

Bob Logue--one of ten siblings--was born in Cascade, Pennsylvania in 1955.  When he was nine, his father bought a Honda Trail 90, and kicked in half the price for a Fox minibike for Bob.  That's when Bob gained a lasting impression about Hondas.   He recalls, “The Fox was always breaking down; the Honda never quit running.”  In addition to earning a healthy respect for the Honda brand, Bob formed a lifelong love affair with motorcycles.  He says, “There was this long, long hill that went up to my grandparents' place.  The day I no longer had to walk up that hill was like heaven.  Zipping up it on a motorbike gave me a whole new outlook on life.”  Still under ten years of age, Bob decided that one day he would like to be a Honda dealer.

 

Logue went to Penn State University, and in his final year applied for his student teaching certificate and a Honda dealer franchise at the same time.  The dealership came through, and he never graduated.  He bought a defunct lumber yard in Williamsport, and opened for business.  Bob Logue Motorsports is still in its original location, a fact for which Bob is proud.  Commenting on current tough times, Logue says, “We're gonna make it.  This place is paid for and we know how to operate lean.  I'm glad I am not one of these guys with a huge mortgage for a new million-dollar building facing the freeway.”  Undoubtedly, part of what sustains a good business is its attitude toward the brand.  Bob says, “I tried Yamaha personal watercraft for awhile, and once I had a chance to buy out a Harley dealership for $15,000--the cost of the parts inventory--but I've chosen to focus on Honda for a reason.  We don't try to divide our loyalties between a bunch of different brands.  We do only one thing, and we do it well.  That's why our slogan is 'We speak Honda.'  It's because we appreciate and believe in Honda quality.”

 

Bob Logue Motorsports is more than a dealership; it is also a museum.  Two rooms are consigned entirely to vintage Hondas and Honda collectibles . . . well, almost entirely.  Among the 150 motorcycles on display are a couple of nice Triumphs and a BSA.  Bob says, without a hint of malice, “I keep these around to remind me how things changed when Honda introduced a higher standard of quality.  These are the victims of continuing to do things the same old way.”  Logue had an opportunity recently to demonstrate Honda's legendary reliability when the Discovery Channel wanted to feature a Honda Cub 50 in its “Seven Wonders of Motorcycles” program.  Logue pulled a mint-condition example out of his collection, fired it up, and went for a 25-mile ride with the camera crew through the Pennsylvania mountains along the Susquehanna River

 

The most remarkable thing about the Logue collection is that none of the motorcycles is restored.  All are in original condition, ranging from good to pristine.  For this, Logue gives credit to Myron Schroeder, 87, (pictured right) who has spent endless hours lovingly detailing each machine.  Logue says, “Myron comes to work every day, riding here every day on his motorcycle, and spends most of his time bringing vintage Hondas up to showroom standard.”  In addition to the rows of fine motorcycles and cases of memorabilia, one notices giant graphics around the walls of each room.  These played a role in Logue's decision to create his museum.  He explains, “In 1998, when the Motorcycle Hall of Fame created an exhibit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Honda, they asked if I would lend them my 450 police bike for the display.  I did, and when the exhibit ended and I went to pick up the bike, I saw all these wonderful giant graphic panels they had made for the exhibit.”  He continues, “There were 47 in all, and I bought all of them.  It was my intention to sell them and make a profit, but on the way back to Pennsylvania I started thinking about keeping them for decoration, and I began to realize that with my collection and these graphics, I had the makings of my own museum.”

 

We all understand the influence that Honda had on the American motorcycle market, but nothing brings it home like viewing all of the most significant and beloved models all in one place.  This is what Bob Logue has provided for all to enjoy, and it is nothing less than the brand deserves.  To access the Museum on line, click here.  To learn more about Bob Logue Motorsports, click here.  To read about Myron Schroeder and his motorcycles, click here.  To read our previous feature about the 1966 Honda 450 police motorcycle, go to Motohistory News & Views 2/12/2008.  To read our Motohistory Tribute to the 50th anniversary of American Honda, click here.

  

 

(8/12/2010)

 

The October issue of Racer X Illustrated may represent a breakthrough in communication for the motorcycle sport, using the latest digital technology to link the print and on-line media that have heretofore behaved competitively and often warred with one-others.  “Supercross Live” host Jason Weigandt pens an excellent article entitled “The Brief, Unofficial History of Motocross Media” that traces how we have disseminated racing news over the past half-century.  He begins with traditional monthly print, discusses the emergence of news weeklies in the mid-1960s, touches on the role of “On Any Sunday” and other films that evolved into home video, notes the role of television, describes how the world wide web made it possible to get print racing results almost in real time, then explains how the advent of streaming video brought several technologies together to give racing fans what they have always wanted with real-time action.  Weigandt then touches on the future, noting that today even the professional publicists cannot stay up with their riders who ofter disseminate news via Twitter even before the official news release can be drafted.  This fascinating topic could justify a book, but still Weigandt has positioned himself with humility to call his article a “brief, unofficial history.”  It is remarkably detailed, well organized, and insightful.

 

Still, this article alone is not what makes the latest issue of Racer X revolutionary in its field.  Billing itself as “the interactive issue,” the magazine presents on its cover and throughout its 218 pages--both with stories and advertisements--a series of bar codes, like the one illustrated here.    By aiming your smartphone at these bar codes, i-nigma.mobil will deliver to your phone a video relevant to the story or advert you are looking at.  Racer-X always offers a large amount of well-written print content, but this interactive aspect takes quantity and quality of accessible content to a whole new level.  We counted 30 separate bar codes throughout the issue.  This is an innovation that may shut up the “print is dead' bloggers.  Indeed, it may be an innovation that can save the print industry.  For more information, click here.  Or even better, just access www.i-nigma.mobil on your smart phone and aim it at the bar code above.

 

The May/June issue of Ride With Us, the official magazine of the international motorcycle federation, contains a feature about the 1913 Six Days Reliability Trial, which was the first International Six Days Trial, later renamed the International Six Days Enduro.  While the 1913 event was the first given international status by the FIM (then called the FICM), it was the 11th such event to be staged in Great Britain.  For this first official international endurance event, only two nations fielded teams, Great Britain and France.  All French riders quickly retired, triggering complaints that the course had been designed prejudicial to the British brands.  While the US and Canada were listed in the program as FICM member nations eligible to enter riders and teams, no record of such participation appears in the results.  Incidentally, while it is not relevant to this article, we would point out that Americans had participated in such events as early as 1907 when T.K. Hastings won the British Six Days aboard an Indian in 1907.  For more information about the FIM, click here

 

We're seeing more and more for Motohistorians in Motorcycle Consumer News, a magazine whose core purpose is to give its readers accurate, insightful, and detailed technical information about modern products, free of the possibly corrosive influence of advertisers.  For example, the September issue contains a lengthy feature story by L.T. Snyder about how to build a motorcycle collection, an article by Joe Michaud entitled “The Illustrious Vincent,” a bio of Jeff Ward by Scott Rousseau, and a story about the new Horex (also see Motohistory 6/8/2010), which author Glynn Kerr discusses in its historical technical context.  To subscribe to Motorcycle Consumer News, click here

 

The August issue of VJMC, the official magazine of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America, includes a feature about AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2010, a Barber Vintage Festival preview, bike show reports from Georgia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Southern California, a story about the club's new web sites, a story about how a club turns used bikes into projects for profit, a Q&A by Jan Ringnalda--known to his friends as “Dr. CBX”--about preparing your bike for winter (you really have to fret that stuff when you have a garage full of bikes with six carburetors each!), a story about a rare 1955 Yamaha YA1, and minutes of the annual meeting of the club's board of directors.  This magazine comes with membership in the VJMC and is not available on news stands.  To learn how to join, click here

 

The September/October issue of IronWorks contains several features for the Motohistorian. Editor Stephen Berner tells us about an eight-year parts hunt and build of 1966 Harley-Davidson FLH, the first of the Shovelheads.  Berner also provides the photography for this story.  Purists may turn up their nose at Joe Marrolli's customized Indian Chief which features Honda R51 forks , a modified Gilroy Indian rear fender, disc brakes from a Suzuki GXS-R, a BSA headlight, and other unorthodox bits and pieces.  Author Paul Holdsworth explains that Marrolli is not some kind of vintage anarchist.  He's a man with two other accurate Chiefs, and has a big respect for a properly restored collectible.  This bike, however, was built to ride, not to judge.  Photography, again, is by Stephen Berner.  This month, Margie Siegal tells us about a special 1926 Harley JD, a family heirloom restored by Pat Smejkal.  The machine, ridden by Smejkal's father and uncle, has been returned to showroom condition, and recently won a top award at the AMCA Yerba Buena Chapter meet.  Excellent photography for this piece is provided by Stephen Jacobson.  To subscribe to IronWorks, click here.

Part Two of Herbert Wagner's history of the Harley-Davidson eight-valve racer is the cover story of the Fall issue of The Antique Motorcycle, the official magazine of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  “Victory, 1916” tells the story of Harley-Davidson's arrival on the top tier of American motorcycle racing with twin victories for its eight-valve racers at Sheepshead Bay, positioning the Motor Company for total domination of the sport after a two-year hiatus during the First World War.  Wagner's words are enhanced by an outstanding selection of historical images, thanks in part to cooperation from Herb Glass, Bob Jameson, Jim Dennie, and the Harley-Davidson Museum Archives.  The issue also contains articles on the 1937 Harley-Davidson Model UMG police bike and the history of Ariel, and meet reports from North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, and the NetherlandsThe Antique Motorcycle is not available on newsstands.  It is a benefit of membership in the AMCA.  For more information and to join, click here.

 

Nortorns for the dirt grace the cover of the September/October issue of Motorcycle Classics.  The cover feature, by Greg Williams with photos by Gary Phelps, tells the story of how two West Coast Americans combined an Atlas engine with at Matchless chassis to create the prototype that Norton would later introduce as the P11, a brutish tool to take on the Triumph and BSA desert sleds that were dominant at the time.  Other features include stories about Joe Smith's Yamaha XS650 custom tracker, the Suzuki T500 Titan, a Sportster “Bronson” replica, George Barber's spectacular Pebble Beach-winning 1954 AJS E95, a tour of West Virginia aboard five vintage Italian steeds: A Guzzi, a Benelli, a Laverda, a Morini, and a Ducati, and the recent AHRMA Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic.  As always, there is a little bit of something for anyone who likes vintage motorcycles in Motorcycle Classics.  This diversity, done with good writing and excellent photography, may well be the formula for success.  In his column, Editor-in-chief Richard Backus cautiously celebrates the fact that MC has completed five years and is well positioned for the future.  Coincidentally, about the time MC was launched, I wrote a Motohistory commentary questioning why commercial magazines about antique motorcycles seemed unable to survive in America (see Motohistory News & Views 7/12/2005). Backus and Ogden Publications may have found the solution.  Happy fifth, MC, we hope there will be many more.  To subscribe, click here.

You can tell the BMW Veteran Motorcycle Club of America guys have fun and don't take themselves too seriously.  Witness the cover of the April issue of BMW VMCA News, featuring a gutted /2 chassis sitting on a big rock.  So what else would you do with a good chassis while you are looking for the parts for a full restoration?  About 90 percent of this magazine is technical information about old BMWs, plus stories sent in by members about recent rallies and rides.  Of special note in this issue is Daniel May's account of how he set a speed record of 67.199mph aboard his R25 at Maxton.  BMW VMCA News is not available on newsstands.  It is a benefit of membership in the club.  For more information, or to join, click here. To learn more about the motorcycle sitting on the big rock, click here.  

     

We can all visit the Harley-Davidson Museum, but few of us will ever have the opportunity to see the Motor Company's fabulous collection, except when one of its rare machines is being rotated through the public display.  But now there's a way to get a tantalizing taste, and this is through “Harley-Davidson Museum Masterpieces,” a book that features the images of award-winning photographer Randy Leffingwell.  Noted journalist Dain Gingerelli provides text, placing the beautiful motorcycle photographs in the context of history.  The book is 240 pages and will be released early in October.  It is $13.95.  To order on Amazon, click here.  To access the web site for the Harley-Davidson Museum, click here.  For more about Dain Gingerelli's body of work, click here.  To access Randy Leffingwell's web site, click here.  

 

(8/10/2010)

 

Can any of our Motohistorians identify this – ahem – motorcycle?  The owner writes:

I acquired this wheeled creation many years ago.  While I have paid to move the thing across the country three times, until recently I had never really studied the machine to determine what it is!  Here’s what I can say about it.  There are no serial numbers or model identifiers.  It is heavy.  The frame is about six feet end-to-end, made of one-inch square tubing.  It has three-inch elliptical tubing for the forks, a three-speed binary transmission, and a Continental 2A016 twin-cylinder, four stroke (aluminum?) engine.  The current engine is a military spec generator power source from the '50s, and I do not believe it was the original power unit. 

A thorough search of the internet of the pre-Tote-Gote "mini-bike/trail-bike" sites did not yield much information.  Tote-Gote appears to be the best documented, but I could not find a same/same model (the Tote-Gote extreme is very similar).  A search through the Popular Mechanics sites, while time consuming and interesting, did not give up any information, or even build-it-yourself plans from advertisers.

 

The welds are very high quality and the tubing bends are of equally high quality, so I would rule out a "home-made" project, unless it were an after work project for aircraft engineers (elliptical tubing is common in aircraft).  The shrouding around the back is sheet aluminum, and the primary drive chain cover is also 3/16 aluminum sheet.

Okay, Motohistorians, do your thing.  Search your collective brain to help us identify this vehicle.

Next, Serafin Humana Ugarte writes from Spain:

 

Hello, I write you from Spain because I think you are our (almost) last opportunity to find the brochure, the poster of the picture announcement for the 45th International Six Days of Trials hosted in SpainOctober 5 through 10, 1970. We need it to include it in a book about the history of Off Road racing in Spain, and that was the first ISDT held in Spain. It was very remarkable for us. Should I ask you if you have it or know who owns one? It is valid any kind of reproduction, small, big, a patch, as a part of advertise, included in a chronicle, etc. We will get in contact with the owner and ask for a copy.  Of course we will pay a reasonable amount for it.

Attention, Malcolm and the Penton boys, you were there.  Can you or any of our other ISDT/E fans and collectors Serafin out?  If so, e-mail her at shermana@produban.com.  

 

National Motorcycle Museum

President John Parham

undergoes vital lung transplant

(8/8/2010)

 

John Parham, founder of J&P Cycles and President of the National Motorcycle Museum, has been suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis since 2007, and earlier this year was placed in intensive care for 33 days due to contracting pneumonia while in the hospital for surgery unrelated to his lung condition.  That near-fatal infection left him with his lungs further damaged, and he was advised then that without a transplant for at least his left lung, his survival could be measured in months.  Parham passed qualifying physical exams for lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic, and was placed on a waiting list in May.

 

On the afternoon of August 7, John received the call he had been hoping for.  The Cleveland Clinic advised him that a charter jet would arrive at 9:15 at Cedar Rapids to fly him back to Cleveland for the five-hour surgery.  Jill Parham reports, “Our minds were racing every which way. We thought we had prepared for this day a hundred times in our minds over the past month.  We were running around the house, grabbing the things we would need for the trip. Our grandson and dog did not understand what was happening.”  Additional testing in Cleveland indicated that the donor lung was good, and John went into surgery at 5 a.m.  The Parhams' son Zachary was in Sturgis, managing J&P's business, and was immediately flown to Cleveland by a friend, arriving before his father went into surgery. 

 

At 9:15 Sunday morning, the attending physician reported that the surgery had gone well.  While the Parhams were not provided an identity for the donor, they were advised that tho lives had been saved.  John had received the donor's left lung, and another patient received the right.  Recovery and recuperation will be difficult, but if the process is normal, Parham has been given the gift of additional time to see the new National Motorcycle Museum completed, and to pursue his list of additional dreams, with his family. John Parham, understandably, is an outspoken supporter of organ donor programs, and he has made the point that one individual can save the lives of several.  Now, his own experience has proven this the case. 

 

To read our report on the recent opening of the new National Motorcycle Museum, including our appeal for Motohistory readers to become organ donors, go to Motohistory News & Views 8/30/2010.  To read our previous features about John Parham and the National Motorcycle Museum, go to Motohistory News & Views 8/29/2005 and 4/26/2007.  To read Parham's personal account of his medical ordeal, including his appeal to friends and customers to become organ donors, click here.  To learn more about becoming an organ donor, click here.